Saturday, 7 April 2012

Kids Ten, Marriage Zero

Paul Tripp has a number of great sayings. One of my favorites is “a desire for even a good thing can become a bad thing when it becomes a ruling thing.” Parenting can be a case in point. I know parents who log more miles per week in their cars taking their children to various activities than are logged at the Indianapolis 500 motor car race on Memorial Day weekend.

It is not surprising to me that there is research that indicates that it is better from a developmental standpoint that your children experience the fruit of a healthy marriage than to have all the benefits derived from violin lessons, soccer tournaments or art instruction.

It is not unusual for a marriage to become child centered. The parents lives revolve around their children’s spoken and unspoken needs and wants. It starts when the child is very young. They deprive you of sleep and drain the mom’s energy. The couple can’t even consider a night out since the baby sitter makes more per hour than the husband, not to mention the fact that you’re ridden with guilt at not being home with your bundle of joy. Intimacy falls off dramatically and the drift begins.

As poor as my memory is, I can still remember that most of the disagreements my wife and I would have centered on the children. She would tell them it was okay to take the car and then get very upset when she went to drive her car and it was low on gas. At which time I would say something that was not very helpful “If you tell them they can drive the car it means it is going to come back low on gas.” At which point her anger turned toward me.

It is not unusual for couples who come for counseling to describe the horrific marriages they experienced growing up. Whether their parents’ marriages ended in divorce, a twenty year cold war, or constant bickering this did not instill in them a sense of security nor did it give them a healthy model of what a God glorifying marriage could look like.

From God’s perspective children are at best number three in the pecking order, as He is number one and your spouse is to be number two. Invariably when a couple is struggling it is because they have violated this precept.

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